OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland teachers union strike entered Day 6 on Thursday as thousands of teachers continue to push for a long list of demands and a new contract with higher pay.
The district has agreed to raise teachers’ salaries, but there’s no still end in sight to the standoff between Oakland Unified School District and Oakland Education Association teachers union.
On Wednesday night, district officials released a shocking estimated price tag for the union’s list of demands — $1 billion. “Fully implementing OEA’s initial common good proposal would cost the district more than $1 billion,” OUSD officials wrote.
There’s only 10 school days left in the 2022-2023 academic year, and most of the district’s 34,000 students have chosen to stay home rather than cross picket lines.
A major sticking point between the two sides centers on “common good” proposals, such as housing homeless students, investing in Black Thriving Community Schools (schools with 40 percent or more Black students), and fixing leaky roofs.
District officials wrote, “Common Good proposals are good, but should not be in a teachers contract.”
OUSD’s update stated, “In negotiations with the Oakland Education Association (OEA), some of the major sticking points are compensation and reverting back to original proposals, along with what OEA often brings up as their ‘common good’ proposal. Details of our offer to OEA … include compensation, mental health, safety, and literacy supports, enrichment, visual and performing arts, special education investments and preparation time for educators.”
“The common good proposal includes issues that OEA wants added to the collective bargaining agreement which are not related to employee compensation or benefits and have never been part of any previous OUSD contract. They include addressing homelessness, how the District utilizes its vacant properties, and having drought resistant plants on campuses,” OUSD stated.
Teachers have been working without a contract since last fall.
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said “common good” proposals should not be in a new contract. According to Trammell, the district is offering teachers a $70 million raise, which would help attract and retain “excellent teachers.” Trammell said the union and district have made progress with bargaining salary raises. But it’s unclear if either side has budged over “common good” proposals that Trammell chalked up as “broad societal issues.”
OUSD provided the following graphics outlining their current offers to the union:
Mayor Sheng Thao spoke out on Thursday urging the district and union to settle the strike.
Children deserve to be in classrooms receiving quality education in a safe, equitable, and joyful environment, the mayor said. “Teachers and school district staff … are charged with educating our greatest asset: Oakland’s youth. We must support the needs of both for the good of our communities and the entire city. In this spirit, I urge OUSD and OEA to work together to settle this strike,” Thao said.
For Day 6 of the strike, Oakland Education Association members and their supporters picketed outside the Oakland Unified School District’s Cole campus, where construction of a new administrative building is underway. Educators said OUSD is spending $57 million from Measure Y funding on a project that serves “no immediate benefit to students or teachers at school sites.”
While construction for a new administrative building is underway, school buildings are in dire need of repairs, according to the union.
For the 2022-23 school year thus far, most of OUSD’s central office staff has continued to work from home. 1000 Broadway, which used to house OUSD’s central offices, has remained mostly empty, union leaders said.
Marika Iyer, a high school English and ethnic studies teacher, said, “OUSD has been guilty of massive overspending on administration for decades. It’s time to prioritize our students’ education, not more high paid jobs and buildings that we don’t need.”
District officials said if the union calls of its strike and teachers return to their classrooms, students can finish their school year on a positive note. Union officials are encouraging students to not go to school and support the strike.
Robbie Donohoe, an OUSD parent and trade union member, said, “I understand that our power is in withholding our labor. All work for OUSD should stop until the strike is settled.”
Union officials wrote, “OEA continues to demand that OUSD show up to the table and bargain to settle a contract to get students and educators back into the classroom, keep teachers in Oakland long term, and ensure safe, stable, racially just schools for all Oakland youth.”
The school board cancelled its regular board meeting Wednesday night.